Bookmaker Paddy Power has come under fire for a controversial advertisement tied to the Oscar Pistorius murder trial that is promoting an offer of refunding the losing bets of gamblers should the sprint champion be found not guilty.
The advert is a play on the recently concluded Academy Awards held in Los Angeles Sunday in which the film industry awards the year’s best actors and filmmakers with an “Oscar.” Paddy Power’s ad shows Pistorius’ head on an Oscar statuette with the words “Oscar Time” and “Money Back If He Walks” emblazoned on the advertisement.
Women rights groups and others who find the advertisement in poor taste are complaining quite vociferously that Paddy Power is making light of violence against women. Pistorius, a double amputee from South Africa who won two gold medals as a Paralympic runner, stands accused of shooting and killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. The murder trial began Monday.
A model and reality television star, Steenkamp was killed when Pistorius allegedly shot her at his home a little more than one year ago. Pistorius claims that he thought he was shooting at an intruder.
Early odds posted by Paddy Power on the murder trial’s outcome were set at 7/4 that Pistorius is found guilty and 2/5 that the 27-year-old “Blade Runner” manages to convince Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa that he is not guilty, independent.ie reported. But Paddy Power then changed things up a bit, creating further outrage by offering to return the wagers of gamblers should Pistorius walk away scot-free.
“We Will Refund All Losing Bets On The Oscar Pistorius Trial If He Is Found Not Guilty” the ad also states.
Paddy Power has not been swayed by the overwhelming number of complaints posted on social media, as well as being forwarded to the Advertising Standards Authority. An online petition demanding that the advertisement be pulled continues to gather signatures.
“People are talking about this,” said a Paddy Power spokesman. “It is top of the agenda. It is in everyone’s face. Everyone is interested and intrigued.”
The spokesman added that the wagers accepted thus far have been rather small and that Paddy Power is offering odds not to make money but more so because of the trial’s global appeal.
“This is the biggest profile trial that has ever been. It’s the only topic of conversation around the world. It’s to provide customers with the opportunity to bet on something that everyone is talking [about],” the spokesman told the Belfast Telegraph. “We’re not betting on murder here. We’re betting on the outcome of a trial.”